Watch: Kevin McKidd discusses his 'Brave' voices and why animation is like being a spy

Watch: Kevin McKidd discusses his 'Brave' voices and why animation is like being a spy

'Grey's Anatomy' star also discusses another killer Shonda Rhimes finale
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Like his "Brave" co-star Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd was first introduced to most viewers in Danny Boyle's "Trainspotting" and, also like Macdonald, McKidd makes his primary living covering up his native Scottish accent for a successful television show.
 
On ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," McKidd plays tightly wound, periodically traumatized, entirely American Owen Hunt. Emotional repression aside, it's a strong role for McKidd, but when we sat down at Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel for the junket for "Brave," he admitted how fun it is to just let loose in the recording booth.
 
In "Brave," McKidd plays Scottish clan leader Lord MacGuffin, as well as his seemingly dim-witted son, one of three suitors to Macdonald's Merida. On the surface, Young MacGuffin seems to almost completely incoherent, but as McKidd explains, the character is actually speaking a specific dialect that runs in the actor's bloodlines.
 
Neither role is huge, but McKidd told me that he's been working on "Brave" for four years, a project that he compares to being a secret agent. 
 
[We also discussed "Grey's Anatomy" just a wee bit and what that conversation isn't in the "Brave"-centric interview above, it's excerpted below!]
 
Hopefully you've already watched my interview with the charming Kelly MacDonald. And stay tuned over the next couple days for my conversations with Pixar chief John Lasseter and with "Brave" director Mark Andrews & producer Katherine Sarafian. And yes, I'm still planning on posting the embarrassing video of my archery attempts in Scotland. 
 
"Brave" opens on Friday, June 22. 
Watch: 'Brave' star Kelly Macdonald discusses her plucky Pixar heroine

Watch: 'Brave' star Kelly Macdonald discusses her plucky Pixar heroine

Is her 'Boardwalk Empire' character beginning to emulate Merida?
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Leave aside the prospect of Oscars or overflowing box office coffers. Pixar's latest feature, "Brave," will have fulfilled its destiny if children across the United States begin to inject Scottish accents into their playground adventures.
 
Sure to be leading that charge will be destiny-defying red-headed firebrand Merida, who is the first female focal protagonist in a Pixar film. An ace archer, Merida resists her mother's entreaties that she tame her unruly hair, set aside her beloved bow and accept responsibility, adulthood and marriage.
 
Much of Merida's spirit comes from her determined eyes and a fiery mane that took Pixar years to develop, but it would be hard to undersell the value of the vocal contribution from Glasgow-born Kelly Macdonald, who wins audience adoration with every exasperated grunt, spunky exclamation and crisply delivered zinger. 
 
In live action form, Macdonald has been embodying feisty heroines dating back to 1996's "Trainspotting" and following through features like "Gosford Park" and superb TV work like "State of Play," an Emmy-winning turn in "The Girl in the Cafe" and her current Emmy nominated role on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
 
And, in person, Macdonald is every bit as feisty. 
 
At Disney and Pixar's junket for "Brave" in Edinburgh, Scotland, I sat down with Macdonald and we discussed Merida's place among Pixar protagonists, what aspects of Teenage Kelly made it into Merida's voice and whether, in the upcoming third season of "Boardwalk Empire," Margaret Schroeder finally gets to become a little Merida. 
 
As the stand-up introduction to this interview indicates, I've got a lot of "Brave" interviews coming over the next few days. After Macdonald, I'll have interviews with co-star Kevin McKidd, Pixar chief John Lasseter, and director Mark Andrews & producer Katherine Sarafian. And, you got a snippet of this in the intro, I'll probably be posting a really embarrassing video of my attempts to master archery, Merida style. 
 
"Brave" opens on Friday, June 22.
Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 135

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 135

Dan and Alan talk 'Newsroom,' plus finales for 'Girls' and 'The Killing'

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. It's time for a slightly late-day installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Sepinwall realized that we hadn't watched "Wilfred," which FX is previewing this Thursday, before it moves to its regular time period the following week, so we plowed through some screeners to set up some less-than-thrilling "Wilfred" discussion.
 
Fortunately, things were much more engaged for our review of Aaron Sorkin's "Newsroom," as well as the finales of "Girls" and "The Killing."
 
And without further ado... Allison Williams eating cake.
 
Here's today's breakdown:
"Wilfred" (00:01:00 - 00:11:10)
"The Newsroom" (00:11:15 - 00:35:20)
"Veep" finale (00:35:25 - 00:43:00)
"Girls" finale (00:43:00 - 00:57:15)
"Killing" finale (00:57:15 - 01:19:50)
"Buffy" (01:20:10 - 01:30:35)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

<p>Nigel Lythgoe of &quot;So You Think You Can Dance&quot;</p>

Nigel Lythgoe of "So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'So You Think You Can Dance' - Salt Lake City Auditions

Would Utah truly attract some of the sexiest auditions ever?

Welcome to another week of "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions, this time from Salt Lake City.

Once upon a time, I might have scoffed about the dance talent in Salt Lake City -- Remember... Dan doesn't know anything about dance -- but thanks to The CW's "Breaking Pointe," I know that Salt Lake City is home to Ballet West and it's a regular hoofing hub. 

So... Thanks, "Breaking Pointe"!

The big question involves the tease from last week's promo promising that Salt Lake City would be home to our sexiest auditions yet. Color me intrigued!

Click through for the full recap...

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 134
Credit: ABC Family

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 134

Dan and Alan talk 'Bunheads,' 'Dallas,' 'Falling Skies' and 'Mad Men' finale

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. 
 
Seems like we haven't had a Monday installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast for a few weeks. So... Here!
 
In this week's podcast episode [only one this week], we discuss the "Mad Men" finale, the premiere of ABC Family's "Bunheads," TNT's "Dallas" and Falling Skies" and then this week's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Rewatch episode "Teacher's Pet."
 
Lots to talk about and I am, unfortunately, a bit brain-dead this week. Apologies.
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Bunheads" (00:00:40 - 00:16:45)
"Dallas" (00:16:45 - 00:29:55)
"Falling Skies" (00:30:00 - 00:38:50)
"Mad Men" finale (00:39:40 - 01:11:45)
Buffy: "Teacher's Pet" (01:11:45 - 01:22:00)
 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

<p>Tonys host Neil Patrick Harris</p>

Tonys host Neil Patrick Harris

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Live-blogging the 2012 Tony Awards

Neil Patrick Harris hosts theater's biggest night, once again
I only had one theatre-ready night in New York City this year, so I had to make that time count, Tonys-wise. My buddy and I tried to get tickets to "Once," but we there weren't any unobstructed seats, so we ended up picking "Seminar" over several other viable plays. I figured Alan Rickman would at least be good for a Tony nod, right?
 
Wrong. 
 
That's how I find myself live-blogging a Tony Awards telecast that will honor only plays and musicals that I haven't seen. My bad for not going with "Porgy & Bess" that night. 
 
Then again, if the Tony telecast were only for people who had seen the shows in question, literally nobody would watch the show, as opposed to the figurative nobody the Nielsen numbers will reveal tomorrow.
 
It's OK. I like the Tonys and I like when Neil Patrick Harris hosts things, so follow along with my live-blog...
 
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Watch: Ridley Scott talks 'Prometheus,' 'Blade Runner 2' and Hollywood's commercial realities

Watch: Ridley Scott talks 'Prometheus,' 'Blade Runner 2' and Hollywood's commercial realities

This interview contains spoilers if you haven't seen 'Prometheus'
LONDON - [WARNING: The last answer in this interview contains a pretty major spoiler. If you've seen "Prometheus, watch all the way through. If you haven't, stop watching when you get to the question about "Prometheus" sequels.]
 
When Ridley Scott spoiled the last scene of "Prometheus" in our video conversation in London last week, I knew I wouldn't be able to run the interview in the days leading up to the release of his not-quite-"Alien"-prequel.
 
That was a disappointment, because it was an enlightening conversation with the "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down" director.
 
Now, since "Prometheus" has completed a strong $50 million opening, I feel like enough people have seen the movie that the interview can go up, keeping in mind that my last question, discussing the way "Prometheus" largely functions as a set-up for a sequel, leads to Scott's spoiling the end of this movie.
 
[Repeated spoiler warnings are probably sufficient, right?]
 
In the interview, Scott addresses the obligatory "Prequel or not-a-prequel?" questions, but he also gives an interestingly pragmatic answer for how he came to be directing "Prometheus" -- Carl Erik Rinsch was originally attached, but the studio balked -- and the advantages he sees in returning to his sci-fi landmarks -- first "Alien," with "Blade Runner" next -- decades after they were born.
 
This is the last of the interviews I did at the London junket for "Prometheus." Check out my conversation with screenwriter Damon Lindelof and interviews with Logan Marshall-Green,  Charlize Theron & Guy Pearce and Noomi Rapace & Michael Fassbender.
 
"Prometheus" is now in theaters.

 

<p>Chris Meloni of &quot;True Blood&quot;</p>

Chris Meloni of "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

TV Review: 'True Blood' makes an anemic Season 5 return

HitFix
D
Readers
C-
Too many characters, too many plotlines and minimal intrigue mar the HBO vampire dramedy
It's probably appropriate that "True Blood" makes me say and do and write stupid, out-of-character things. 
 
Like last summer, when I reviewed the fourth season premiere, I briefly convinced myself that it was totally OK that "True Blood" was a glib, bloody, utterly soulless enterprise, because Alan Ball didn't aspire to make a series of substance. I even took the blame upon myself and wrote, "I am at fault for wanting 'True Blood' to be more than it is."
 
I wrote those words, but it wasn't true. "True Blood" is at fault for not even being a good version of what it aspires to be, which is doubly bad, because what it aspires to be is so low-brow and trashy. And by failing to be effectively and deliciously low-brow and trashy, "True Blood" has had the odd effect of activating an inner puritanical streak that I didn't know I possessed. 
 
Last season, during the sixth or seventh lackluster sex scene between Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman, I actually found myself thinking, "Geez, maybe it's time for Anna Paquin to put on some clothing."
 
Those thoughts are not in character. Why would I ever think that? Why would Alan Ball want to make me think such awful thoughts?
 
Early in Season 5, during a sequence in which a newly born vampire zips around a house at accelerated speed, upending lamps and knocking over furniture, I actually found myself musing, "Geez. It's going to take a long time to clean up this mess." 
 
I'm not Martha Stewart. I'm not an especially neat person. And no matter how much of a mess is made on-screen in "True Blood," nobody is ever going to force me to restore order. And yet, in lieu of providing material for my enjoyment, Alan Ball triggered my vicarious OCD tendencies. 
 
Put a different way, what "True Blood" has managed to do, after four-plus seasons, is deaden my appetite for chaos and haphazard anarchy. 
 
A show about the most primal and basic of human desires has battered my poor, defenseless Id into submission.
 
If you hated the fourth season of "True Blood," with its overacting witches, neutered Erics and less-than-engaging Shifters, I'm here to provide the saddest of warnings: It doesn't get better.
 
[More after the break...]
 
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<p>Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts of IFC's &quot;Comedy Bang! Bang!&quot;</p>

Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts of IFC's "Comedy Bang! Bang!"

Credit: IFC

Interview: Reggie Watts flexes new muscles on 'Comedy Bang! Bang!'

He's Scott Aukerman's bandleader/sidekick and much more
Yesterday, I posted an interview with Scott Aukerman from February on the set of IFC's "Comedy Bang! Bang!"
 
If you read the interview, you know that originally, Aukerman's "Comedy Bang! Bang!" bandleader and sidekick Reggie Watts was going to be a part of the conversation, but he got pulled away just as I was about to direct my first question in his direction. [Disclosure: Watts' title may be "bandleader," but he's the band, so he's not really leading anybody else.]
 
Fortunately, even though Watts is a huge part of the "Comedy Bang! Bang!" team, performing in skits in addition to generating his unique brand of musical accompaniment, he made sure to carve out some time to return to the green room to chat with me. 
 
If you aren't familiar with Watts' music or his comedy or his musical comedy or his comedic musicality, I suggest you wander around YouTube and check out some clips. He's like Andy Kaufman if Andy Kaufman had a giant afro, a bushy beard, a penchant for suspenders and tons of musical talent. 
 
Most of this interview concentrates on Watts' work on "Comedy Bang! Bang!" and his previous attempts to find a proper small screen vehicle. In the actual interview, we talked a bit about his musical career, but HitFix's Katie Hasty had a lengthy subsequent interview with Watts that covers that material much better than I did.
 
Click through for the full Q&A. 
 
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Watch: Damon Lindelof discusses 'Prometheus,' 'Alien' and sequels

Watch: Damon Lindelof discusses 'Prometheus,' 'Alien' and sequels

'Lost' co-creator prepares fans for still more unanswered questions
LONDON - If you follow Damon Lindelof on Twitter, or if you've read any of the interviews he's done since "Lost" wrapped two years ago, you're aware that Lindelof knows what you think about him, be it positive or negative.
 
As a result, Lindelof also knows what you think about the idea that his new  film, "Prometheus," is designed as the first film in a contained series, meaning that the movie opening on Friday (June 8) raises as many questions as it answers.
 
Director Ridley Scott recruited Lindelof to give a new spin to a script by Jon Spaihts. That script was a straight-forward prequel to Scott's sci-fi landmark "Alien," but Lindelof's take turned "Prometheus" into a film that runs parallel to the time leading up to "Alien," but doesn't actually connect, at least not yet.
 
In a conversation filmed in a rover vehicle perched on a noisy corner of London's Covent Garden Lindelof discusses the progression of "Prometheus" out of the realm of a pure prequel and into its current form and argues in favor of "giving imaginative propriety to the fans" (that means not answering every question directly).
 
As was the case with my rover-set interview with Logan Marshall-Green, a couple of Lindelof's answers were rendered entirely unusable by reversing trucks and construction. Unfortunately, those answers included my Sepinwall prompted "Lost" question involving the people shooting at the outrigger. [No. Not really. I jokingly asked Lindelof about the outrigger after the cameras stopped rolling and his response was, "Sepinwall knows everything he needs to know about that."]
 
Stay tuned for my excellent, but slightly spoiler-y Ridley Scott interview either over the weekend or Monday. And check out my interviews with Logan Marshall-Green,  Charlize Theron & Guy Pearce and Noomi Rapace & Michael Fassbender.
 
"Prometheus" opens on Friday, June 8.